SMT: Brian Loftin - Series pre-season spotlight

Ready To Get Back To Business; Loftin aims to defend title after exciting offseason Anytime a driver wins a championship almost every champion will tell everyone they can't wait to get back to the track, and for the defending 2008 NASCAR Whelen...

Ready To Get Back To Business; Loftin aims to defend title after exciting offseason

Anytime a driver wins a championship almost every champion will tell everyone they can't wait to get back to the track, and for the defending 2008 NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour champion, the first race couldn't come soon enough.

Brian Loftin edged Tim Brown to win his first NASCAR championship last October. Loftin, Brown and the NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour return to the track next weekend for the inaugural event in the 2009 season. The Spring Classic 150 at Caraway Speedway will be the first of 16 races on the 2009 schedule and one of seven races at the historic .455-mile oval this year.

The season will begin with practice and qualifying on Saturday, March 13 and the green flag will fly on Sunday, March 14 at 2 p.m. (View weekend schedule)

Loftin hopes to become the first repeat champion of the Tour since Junior Miller captured the first two championships in series history (2005 and 2006).

"There are so many great drivers and teams in the NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour now that winning a championship is hard work and repeating will definitely be a challenge for us," said Loftin. "I think we have a good shot because we have good equipment and my crew returns intact, and they feel confident we have a chance to win another title."

Loftin spent the offseason enjoying the perks that winning a NASCAR title bring. He represented the NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour at the Fourth Annual Whelen Geoff Bodine Bobsled Challenge in Lake Placid, N.Y., and traveled West for the champions events in Los Angeles that served as a prelude to the NASCAR Toyota All-Star Showdown.

"Some of the things I got to do last year after winning the championship were great," said Loftin. "NASCAR treats you so well and it was fun to be a part of all the things going on in New York and California.

"Those were fun experiences and I will remember those times. But now it's time to get back on the track. But it was pretty cool riding a bobsled."

Loftin is quick to point out that the level of competition in the NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour has really improved since the 2005 season and he feels there are quite a few capable drivers out there ready to wrestle the title away from him.

"I know Tim Brown has to be real hungry after finishing second a couple of times in a row," said Loftin. "He is definitely one of the drivers I expect to be running up front all the way until we get to Caraway in October. L.W. (Miller) has already won a championship so you know what he is capable of, and other drivers like Andy Seuss and George Brunnhoelzl have also stepped up and are ready to run for a title, too."

The new season also brings a new level of excitement for Loftin as the Tour has compiled its most ambitious schedule to date with 16 events and three new venues. South Boston, who has hosted a race for the northeast-based NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour previously, will host the Southern Tour for the first time as will Myrtle Beach (S.C.) Speedway and Tennessee's Bristol Speedway. They will run at South Boston in April and travel to Bristol in August. Myrtle Beach will host the Tour during Labor Day weekend. (View complete schedule)

"I love going to Caraway and that track will always be special to me but it is exciting to get to go to new places, and the Tour has grown to the point in its schedule that I think drivers and teams are happy with in 16 races," said Loftin.

Loftin was also quick to point out that growing the series in terms of number of events and locations is going to be good for everyone.

"I think racing new tracks will give the drivers and teams a new challenge during the season and exposing the Tour to new fans and in new markets is good for NASCAR and the sponsors who help make the NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour possible," added Loftin.

Speaking of Bristol, Loftin said if the race is as much fun as the recent tire test was, it is going to be a night to remember for the fans -- and drivers. The event is a combination race with the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour.

"I had a blast driving at Bristol just out there by myself and I can only imagine how much fun it will be with all the other cars on the track," said Loftin. "It will be a great show and we will probably race in front of the biggest crowd the southern tour has seen so it will be an awesome night. I just hope I can win that first race at Bristol. That would be special."

So would defending that championship.

-credit: nascar

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Series NASCAR
Drivers Andy Seuss